Point of View Columns

Follow the Blood – Follow the Money

The horrific Newtown Massacre is all the more terrible because it is a regular part of the American news cycle. Every three to six months the national eye focuses on the blood and gore in Tucson or Aurora or Columbine or……Newtown. This country’s gun madness is maddening but to try to understand it follow the numbers written in blood and, of course, follow the money.

Some simple numbers need to be kept in mind when looking at the United States of Gun:
-Since the Columbine Massacre in 1999 there have been 181 multiple gun killings at schools
– Every day there is an average of 34 gun murders in the United States
-There are over 60,000 gun killings in the United States every year

Incredibly, with private gun carnage being at such a high rate, this country has the most lax private gun control laws in the world. As a result, in a country of approximately 330 million people there are over 300 million privately owned guns.

The numbers cited should be no surprise considering the fact that the national private armory is overflowing with weapons of individual mass destruction. And yet, there is more.

Because in addition to “personal” weaponry (hunting rifles, small caliber pistols, target weapons) being freely available, monstrous killing machines that belong only in the hands of the military and law enforcement are also freely available.

A company called Bushmaster makes the AR-15 .223 caliber rifle which was used in the Newtown Massacre to obliterate the lives of small children and their teachers. Coincidentally, this same weapon was used by the infamous D.C. sniper in 2002 to kill 10 people.

This weapon fires over 5 bullets per second its bullets can chip concrete and tear the head off an adult. With the hollow tip bullets used in Newtown, a shot from this weapon will cause instant death if the victim is hit just about anywhere. And when you finish reading this column you can go to a gun show in most states in this country and buy one.

The notion that the Second Amendment advocated massive personal arsenals is ludicrous and historically wrong. But in any event, the Constitution has been effective because it is flexible and in a time when incredibly destructive weapons are so freely available, reasonable controls on the possession of weapons only makes sense. To paraphrase President Obama, the death of thousands of innocent people every year should not be the price for exercising the right to own a gun.

In this country an individual requires a government permit to possess high explosives. One cannot possess a wide range of drugs and pharmaceutical products without government approvals. Yet it is possible to amass incredible destructive firepower without limit – all in the name of some skewed interpretation of the Second Amendment. And that’s how massacres are born.

And it is also important to follow the money. Bushmaster is owned by Cerberus Capital Management – http://www.cerberuscapital.com, a private equity firm based in New York and owned by one Steve Feinberg. Cerberus and Mr. Feinberg clearly have no problems profiting from an enterprise that actively advertises the murderous killing capacity of its products. One can assume that the blood of the innocents of Newtown is just seen as an unfortunate collateral aspect of this Cerberus portfolio company.

And Cerberus and Mr. Feinberg are not alone. Investors in Cerberus include prominent government and private pension funds, insurance companies, universities, charitable foundations as well and sovereign and family wealth funds. Clearly, if you follow the blood spilled at Newtown and from so many other venues it will lead to the money that will in turn lead to leading financial institutions and their investors.

In other words, the blood and the guilt of this national tragedy are spread far and wide. And it is this national conspiracy of gun mania and profit at any cost which explains the seeming impossible task of getting reasonable gun control laws in this country.

And one more thing – In Greek mythology Cerberus was the three headed dog that guarded the gates of Hell.